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Is milk expensive in South Korea?


South Korea is a country that heavily relies on milk imports. With a high demand for milk in the country, many wonder if milk is expensive in South Korea. In this article, we will explore the pricing of milk in South Korea and provide a comprehensive guide to understanding the factors that affect the cost of milk in the country.

The Cost of Milk in South Korea

Milk in South Korea is generally more expensive than in other countries due to various factors such as import taxes, high demand, and limited production. The cost of milk varies depending on where it is purchased and its fat content. However, compared to other dairy products like cheese and butter, milk is relatively affordable.

Milk Production in South Korea

South Korea has limited milk production capacity due to its small land area and lack of natural resources. The country produces only about 20% of its milk consumption. This means that the majority of milk consumed in South Korea is imported from countries like Australia, New Zealand, and the United States.

Import Taxes on Milk

Import taxes play a significant role in the pricing of milk in South Korea. The country has a complex tariff system that includes both ad-valorem and specific duties. The import tax rate for milk can vary from 18% to 241%, depending on the origin of the milk and its fat content.

High Demand for Milk

South Koreans have a high demand for milk, especially among children and young adults. This demand has increased over the years due to increasing health awareness and the rise of western-style cafes serving lattes and cappuccinos.

Milk Consumption Habits in South Korea

South Koreans primarily consume processed milk, including flavored milk, UHT (ultra-high temperature) milk, and condensed milk. These types of milk are more expensive than fresh milk, which is less commonly consumed in the country. Processed milk has a longer shelf life, making it a convenient option for many.

Competition Among Milk Brands

There are many milk brands available in South Korea, including domestic and imported brands. Domestic milk brands may be cheaper than imported brands due to lower production costs and easier access to the market. However, some imported brands may compete on quality and branding, leading to higher prices.

Milk Alternatives

Due to the high cost of milk, some South Koreans choose to consume milk alternatives such as soy milk or almond milk. These alternatives are often more expensive than cow’s milk but may provide health benefits for those with lactose intolerance or other dietary restrictions.

Seasonal Variations in Milk Prices

Milk prices in South Korea can fluctuate seasonally due to supply and demand factors. For example, during the summer months, demand for cold beverages and ice cream increases, leading to higher prices for dairy products like milk.

The Impact of COVID-19 on Milk Prices

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on global food supply chains, including the dairy industry. In South Korea, there have been some reports of shortages and price increases for certain dairy products. However, the overall impact on milk prices has been relatively minimal.

Government Support for the Dairy Industry

The South Korean government provides support for the dairy industry through subsidies and other incentives. These measures help to promote local production and reduce reliance on imports. However, they may also lead to higher prices for consumers.


Overall, while milk in South Korea may be more expensive compared to other countries, its affordability relative to other dairy products makes it a popular choice among consumers. Understanding the factors that affect milk prices can help consumers make informed decisions when purchasing milk in South Korea.

Why is milk expensive in South Korea?

According to experts, the reason for the high cost of milk in Korea is due to the insufficient amount of land available for dairy farming. South Korea has less agricultural land and production compared to other developed countries, making it a less favorable environment for the dairy industry. This is the cause of the issue.

Why do Koreans like milk so much?

According to a survey among South Korean milk drinkers on their reasons for consuming milk, around 45.3 percent of respondents answered that they consumed milk as a snack to appease their hunger. According to the same source, especially respondents aged 14 to 39 gave this as a reason.Nov 9, 2022

Do Koreans eat a lot of dairy?

In the traditional Korean diet, dairy products are not commonly consumed. Instead, Korean meals are named based on the number of side dishes that are served alongside steam-cooked short-grain rice. These side dishes are called “banchan.”

Is it expensive to eat out in South Korea?

South Korean cuisine is not as well-known as other national foods, allowing visitors to experience many new flavors. The good news is that the cost of food in Korea is very affordable and the taste is excellent, making traveling in South Korea a great bargain.

How much is a Big Mac in Korea?

In Seoul, a Combo meal at a fast food restaurant like a Big Mac Meal costs ₩7,898 as of March 3, 2023.

Is it cheaper to eat out in Korea?

Food in Korea is affordable, with the option to make your own Korean meal from grocery store ingredients being even more cost-effective. It is possible to have a meal in Korea for as little as 1000 won (0.76 USD).

Future Outlook for Milk Prices in South Korea

The future outlook for milk prices in South Korea is uncertain. While the government is taking steps to promote local production and reduce reliance on imports, there are still challenges such as limited land area and high production costs. Additionally, global factors such as climate change and trade tensions could also impact the price of milk in the country.

Consumer Awareness of Milk Prices

Despite the higher cost of milk in South Korea, many consumers may not be aware of the reasons behind it. By increasing consumer awareness of the factors that affect milk prices, consumers can make more informed purchasing decisions and potentially advocate for policy changes that benefit both producers and consumers.

Alternative Dairy Products

As mentioned earlier, some South Koreans choose to consume alternative dairy products such as soy milk or almond milk. The popularity of these products has led to an increase in their availability and a growing market for plant-based dairy alternatives.

Sustainability Issues in the Dairy Industry

The dairy industry has come under scrutiny for its environmental impact, particularly in terms of greenhouse gas emissions and water usage. As the demand for milk continues to grow in South Korea, there may be a need to address sustainability issues within the industry to ensure its long-term viability.

Innovations in Dairy Production

Advances in technology and scientific research have led to innovations in dairy production, such as genetically modified cows that produce more milk or dairy-free alternatives produced through biotechnology. These developments could potentially impact the future of milk production and pricing in South Korea.

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